UPDATE: The City Council land use committee approved plans for Astoria Cove. As expected, 27 percent of the 1,700 units will be affordable, which is more than the 20 percent that was proposed a few months ago at City Planning.
With City Council set to vote on the proposal for the Astoria Cove megadevelopment tomorrow, time is running out for developers Alma Realty to settle the outstanding issues with the project—namely, affordable housing and union labor (or, in both cases, lack thereof). There's nothing like a good deadline to speed things along, though, and yesterday Alma reached a deal regarding the union labor. Basically, they're going to use it now. "Under the agreement the building trades will supply construction workers for the site, while all the supers, porters and handymen will be 32BJ-SIEU members," the Daily News reports.
Even more contentious is the issue of affordable housing and that one hasn't been figured out yet. Because the project requires changes to the zoning code, under the new de Blasio rules the developers are required to make at least 20 percent of the units affordable. Queens residents are pushing for more, however, with local City Council member Costa Constantinides demanding 30 percent affordable housing. However, sources tell Capital New York that the two sides are narrowing in on a 25 percent compromise, which would raise the number of affordable units from 345 to 431, out of 1,723 total units. And now Crain's is reporting that Alma is actually going to make 27 percent of the units affordable (466). Whatever the case, it seems like the real estate people who have been talking to the press just might have been bluffing about the whole sitting-on-the-property-until-there's-a-new-mayor thing.
Real Affordability for All, a group that has a very clear meaning, sent out a statement after the vote, saying they are "angry" over the "lack of affordable housing. "But the lack of affordability in this deal is unacceptable to thousands of low-income and moderate-income New Yorkers. de Blasio administration officials are responsible for allowing a bad deal on affordability to happen. Both the level and depth of affordability should be much higher. The Astoria community wanted at least 35 percent affordability, and this deal at 27 percent fails to meet that standard."
· Astoria Cove Passes Big Test [WSJ]
· Astoria Cove site developer comes to labor union agreement for project's construction [NYDN]
· Astoria Cove agreement on union labor [Capital]
· Union Deal Struck at Last Minute for Astoria Cove Development ['Stoner Queens]
· Contentious Queens project nearing approval [Crain's]
· Astoria Cove coverage [Curbed]